The Phimosis Files
You might be wondering “what is ‘phimosis?” The word kind of sounds like a sneeze. Well, it isn’t – it is a medical condition affecting uncircumcised males and is related to the ability to pull the foreskin of the penis back behind the glans.
While phimosis is a relatively rare condition, it is a very real one that can take a toll on your sex life, and it can be difficult to discuss if you suffer from it. It isn’t the sexiest subject, but for many, it’s a real part of life.
If you or a partner suffers from phimosis, educating yourself medically is important. This blog will break down the details of phimosis from causes to prevention and everywhere in between!
Specifically, Phimosis is defined as, “A condition in which the foreskin of the penis is too tight to be pulled back to reveal the glans.”
For uncircumcised male babies and toddlers, phimosis is a normal condition, as their foreskin remains attached to the glans after birth. “Children are born with tight foreskin at birth and separation occurs naturally over time.” The foreskin “will start to detach naturally between 2 and 6 years of age, though it might happen later…up to around 10 years old, in some boys….Phimosis will occur in less than 1 percent of teenagers between 16 and 18.”
At a later age, however, it becomes more rare and can cause problems. For an adult male with phimosis, having sex can be painful (condoms might help). Phimosis might not be a serious problem for most men, but may cause some medical conditions, such as urinary issues (like urinary tract infections), balanitis (swelling of the penis), or “inflammation of both the glans and the foreskin, called balanoposthitis”. Ouch! Not fun.
What causes phimosis in adults?
This is not a simple answer. There can be several causes. The main causes include skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, lichen planus (an itchy rash), and lichen sclerosus (scarring on the foreskin brought on potentially by urinary irritation).
Risk factors for phimosis include the presence of STIs (sexually transmitted infections).
In addition, poor hygiene can cause phimosis. More on that later.
How do I know if I have it?
Often a person doesn’t know they have phimosis unless they exhibit symptoms.
Symptoms of phimosis include redness, swelling, soreness, itching, odor and pain during urination. Difficulty bringing back the foreskin is another indication (but only in adult males, not teen or young males).
What is the treatment for phimosis?
According to one medical journal, there are three treatment options:
- See if the phimosis will go away on its own.
- Apply a steroid cream to help stretch the foreskin.
In most men, phimosis is not a serious problem and will not require treatment (phew). However, it is not expected to improve on its own. While phimosis is generally not an emergency, you should know that a condition called paraphimosis can sometimes constitute a medical emergency.
How do I prevent phimosis?
Now that you read all the “not fun” stuff, let’s take a minute to help prevent phimosis, shall we?
First, let’s acknowledge that this is condition doesn’t happen to circumcised males. So, unfortunately, the risk of phimosis is one of the cons of being an uncircumcised male. (Insert curse word!)
As such, to prevent phimosis, uncut males are going to have to do a much better job at personal hygiene down in their nether regions than their circumcised brethren. No junk in your junk! That is the main rule here.
As an uncircumcised male, “If you don’t regularly clean under the foreskin, bacteria, dead skin cells, and oil can cause smegma to build up.” Wait, “smegma”? Smegma is the “secretion of the oil glands around the genitals.” So, if you want to keep this area really clean, remember to pull back the foreskin during bathing.
If you want to get your sexy on, having phimosis can be a drag. But, hey, knowledge is power, fellas! If you feel you have phimosis, talk to your doctor. And, as always, prevention is key!
Emily Anne is a bestselling author, sex coach and educator, who specializes in helping people expand their sexual horizons through BDSM and kink. When she’s not obsessively talking about sex, she’s hiking through the Hollywood Hills. Get some sexy education on her Instagram feed!